Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Welcome to Avebury

Welcome to Avebury, Wiltshire, England
I was going through my pictures of England this afternoon and was struck by how much I saw during my eight day visit. I had the best guide in my friend, Sybil, who lives in Wiltshire and her friends, Mary, Val and Peter. No one could have had better companions. It's unlikely I could have seen more -- or had a better time -- traveling in any other manner. There are probably another ten blog posts to share, and I will do more posts in the future. But for my last post of July we're going to beautiful Avebury Manor. 
One of the most popular sites in England is Stonehenge. But Avebury, which is located about an hour away is equally fascinating. It is the largest Neolithic stone circle in the world, and a fascinating place to visit. I visited Stonehenge four years ago. It was a sea of tour buses and people snapping selfies. This was not the case at Avebury. My friend, Val, and I shared the site with maybe a half dozen other visitors. It was an extraordinary experience.
One of the circles of stones at Avebury Henge.
 It's believed that rituals or ceremonies were held here at least five thousand years ago.  
The garden at Avebury Manor
Avebury Manor House is a sixteenth century manor house located next to the Henge. Unlike most of the house that visitors can tour, everything in Avebury Manor can be touched. Yes, they are reproductions, but it was so much fun to feel the wool on the "redcoat" and pick up the china. The house was featured in a BBC series, The Manor Reborn in 2011.  
Church of St. James, Avebury
I'm a fan of sacred architecture and the Church of Saint James, Avebury was one of my favorite sites on this trip. The Church is approximately 1,000 years old and dates to the Saxon period. 
I began July leaving for England and now I'm ending July with memories of this wonderful trip. August holds no long distance travel plans, but I'm anticipating a trip or two to New England next month. What are your August plans?
As ever, thanks for visiting and wishes for a sweet August!


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Pink Saturday Goes to Magdalen College, Oxford

It's time to go back just a few weeks and revisit some of my favorite memories of this visit to England. For this Pink Saturday we're going to Oxford University and specifically to Magdalen College. When I made my original plans to visit Oxford I thought of taking a walking tour that included all of the colleges of Oxford University. I'm not quite sure where I got that idea or if such a tour exists, but after an initial bus ride around Oxford I realized seeing all of the colleges would be a bigger project than one I could accomplish in two days. I opted to visits to Christ Church and to Magdalen. I chose Christ Church because a friend from New York was taking a summer course there and Magdalen because it was across the street from my hotel. I wasn't disappointed with either choice.
Magdalen, founded in 1458 by William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, is spectacularly beautiful. I had a wonderful tour with a second year physics student, Alex. I enjoyed learning about the history of the college and present day student life. Notable graduates include -- in no particular order -- Oscar Wilde, Dudley Moore, Cardinal Wolsey, Edward VIII and T.E. Lawrence.
The New Buildings, built in the 1730's, where C.S. Lewis lived during his teaching years at Oxford. 
Magdalen College is especially known for its association with C.S. Lewis. Lewis was not a graduate of Magdalen, but he taught English Language and Literature there from 1925-1954. It was also at Magdalen where he began his journey towards belief in G'd. He had been an atheist for several decades but moved away from this and began to attend the daily morning service in the Magdalen Chapel.
The Magdalen College Chapel

Addison's Walk, Magdalen College
But it was in this spot on Addison's Walk in the autumn of 1931, in conversation with his colleagues and friends, Hugo Dyson and J.R. Tolkien that Lewis came to believe specifically in Christianity. Lewis was a literary scholar and his work during his Magdalen tenure was greatly respected, but much of the world knows him as the author of Mere Christianity, the Screwtape Letters and the Chronicles of Narnia. I've read a lot about C.S. Lewis, but have actually read very little that he wrote. My visit to Magdalen is a catalyst to begin to Lewis' work. 
  The buildings of Magdalen are magnificent, but equally so are the gardens. 
I've enjoyed revisiting Oxford and I hope you have, too. If there are any C.S. Lewis readers in Buttercupland -- and I anticipate there are a good number -- which of his books are your favorite?
As ever, thanks for visiting and wishes for a great week!  


Friday, July 27, 2018

The Dignity You Save May Be Your Own: An Announcement from the Buttercupland Department of Public Safety

This bathing suit innocently hanging on the dressing room wall looks harmless. The top looks adequate to cover what needs to be covered and the bottom appears generous. It has the added advantage of being on sale. A senior citizen bathing suit shopper is optimistic that this may end the misery that marks buying a bathing suit.

Ha! The summer of 2018 has brought a new danger to bathing suit shopping and the usually aware Buttercupland Department of Public Safety had fallen down on the job. Happily a disaster was averted in the TJ Maxx fitting room this week.

What looks harmless from the front photograph is a danger waiting to happen. I got caught in the straps, which wrapped around my head. There are no photographs because it was not a pretty picture. I was so busy extricating myself from the top that taking a selfie was the last thing on my mind. Was I close to needing 911? No! Was it awkward, unpleasant and a waste of a good five minutes that I will never get back again? Yes!

The Buttercupland Department of Public Safety issues this summer bulletin:
Remember to check all of a bathing suit before you try it on. The dignity you save may be your own. 
 Also, remember to buy a bathing suit early in the season.
 A wide selection helps avert desperate shopping.
I'm now off for a beach weekend, bringing a bathing suit that is an old friend, and grateful to have it.
It's been a busy week with a number of medical appointments, which kept me busy. Next week looks quieter and calmer and I plan to spend more time in Buttercupland than doctor's waiting rooms.
As ever, thanks for visiting and wishes for a great weekend! 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

What to My Wondering Eyes...

This may look like an average hand wearing an average ring, but, my friends, this is a miracle. It's my hand and I am -- to my tremendous amazement -- wearing my high school ring. I think it's the first time in at least forty years that I've even thought of this ring, let alone worn it.

This afternoon I was looking for a pair of earrings in a little opened jewelry box. I didn't find the earrings I was looking for, but I did see my high school ring, class of 1968. I'm several sizes larger than I was in 1968 and I thought it was impossible that the ring would fit me. Nonetheless, I decided to try it on, if that was even possible. The ring went on and it also came off without a struggle. To my great surprise, it fit.

I don't remember when the rings arrived, but I do remember being so excited that I got to wear a high school ring, and I wore it throughout the rest of my high school years. My treasured ring got sent to the little used jewelry box when I got to college and got my college ring. I doubt if I wore even once after that.

Fifty years have passed since I graduated from high school and we will hold our reunion in October. Fifty years, all of my adult life. After all of the years, the people, the places and the experiences I'm back with my memories of high school and high school times and friends and it's sweeter than I ever could have imagined it would be fifty years ago.

Dear ring, it's nice to have you back, my old friend.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Pink Saturday Goes to Tintern Abbey

The church at Tintern Abbey, Wales
I came back from England on Wednesday night. I arrived home at 8:00 P.M., which was 1:00 a.m. there. I've been slowly getting back into my usual activities, but falling asleep early every night. It's not the jet lag I felt after the trip to Australia this winter, but I realize I'm still not quite on schedule. As a result, poor Buttercupland has been sadly neglected. I did one post on my iPad, but the four lines took almost an hour, as it kept freezing and closing. There was something -- or a number of things -- memorable every day and I've been pondering where to begin. My thought was to go chronologically, but instead I'm going to pick a few favorite places and write about them. 
Perhaps because it was a totally unexpected stop on my itinerary, Tintern Abbey, made one of the largest impressions. In a little known fact about Buttercup, I am a great fan of the English Romantic Poets, including William Wordsworth. I'm not a poet and I'm not a particularly adept analyst of poetry, but I enjoy reading poetry very much. I've read Wordsworth's "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" many times. I loved the idea of going there, but figured it was too out of the way. The sweet friends I visited lived less than two hours from the border of England and Wales and Tintern Abbey. They suggested it as a day trip, not knowing that it was a dream trip for me. On a bright and beautiful Saturday morning we went to Tintern Abbey.
Tintern Abbey was a Cistercian Abbey, founded in the twelfth century. It wasn't an especially large or politically important abbey, as it was set in a remote part of Wales. It functioned for four hundred years, until the monasteries were dissolved by King Henry VIII. The abbey buildings fell into disrepair and in Wordsworth's time -- the poem was written in 1798 -- it became fashionable to visit areas that were "wilder," including the ivy-covered abbey in the Wye Valley. 

A detail of the Church window
We had a perfect day visiting the abbey. There were no tour buses and it wasn't crowded. We followed our visit with lunch -- Welsh rarebit -- and then a trip to Gloucester, which will be the topic of a post this week.
I cannot begin to thank my wonderful host, Sybil, who I "met" via blogging early on in the first days of Buttercupland. Sybil no longer blogs -- Alas! -- but we've kept up on Facebook through the years. Sybil was kind, thoughtful, an extraordinary guide to the area and a lot of fun. Dear Sybil, hugs and thanks!
I'm joining in the Pink Saturday fun. If you have the opportunity please stop by and visit with the great group of bloggers there. 
As ever, thanks for visiting and wishes for a great week! 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Beautiful Box

Blogger is being temperamental, so this may be very brief. 

I'm enjoying a fabulous visit to a blog buddy who lives in the lovely town of Box, Wiltshire, England.
We "met" through blogging in my early blogging days almost ten years ago and have kept in touch ever since. I couldn't have a better guide and I'm enjoying my visit enormously. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

I (May) Owe It All to Mark Twain

About to Leave on a Jet Plane
The first author's home I visited was the Mark Twain house in Hartford. I'm not sure if this was the case for most people I grew up with, but when anyone came to visit from out of town our tourist choice stop was the Mark Twain House. I may have been there a dozen times, but it my interest never faded. It was my first literary stop, but not the last. We were readers and if there was a stop related to a writer on any trip, it went on our itinerary. One of the high points of travel with my parents was a visit to Walden Pond and the Alcott House in Massachusetts.
Decades have passed and it's been a long time since I traveled with my parents, but literary visits are still high on my to-see list. I'm about to leave for a string of literary stops. I'll reveal the location in a later post, but I'm really excited. The stops are definitely on a par with any I've seen so far. One goes back to my summer reading in 1964.   
I'm also going to spend time with one of my favorite bloggers, and I'm equally excited to finally meet and grateful for her generous offer of hospitality. Many sweet dreams are about to come true with this trip. I'm leaving it as a mystery for a little fun, but there will be pictures.    
I'm packed, apartment is straightened and refrigerator is cleaned and orderly. It's time to bid adieu until I greet you from the next stop on my literary journey. 
As ever, thanks for visiting and keep cool!